Far from simply being the 1980’s advertising campaign in the U.S. War on Drugs (yeah, I know, I’m totally dating myself here), “Just Say No” has become a personal mantra for me, from dealings with over-entitled friends and family to pushy salespersons and more recently, clients. While the idea has held for decades that the client is always right, a new perspective with a hefty dose of logic has wandered onto the business scene.
As a business owner, writer, and virtual assistant among other titles, I have learned – through painful experience – the value of parting ways with clients who expect me to lower my business standards and quality of service to suit their needs.
As a part-time branding professional I am all too conscious of the weight that turning out a perfect brand identity or logo (for instance) carries. If a website is the face of one’s business, the logo is the handshake and if that first contact is not staunch and captivating the business can suffer. While this is a sad testament to our culture it is nonetheless critically worthy of consideration. So much so, in fact, that when recent clients approached me with very specific ideas for their company logo I ultimately had to respectfully suggest that they find another designer after days of unsuccessful collaboration and discussions over why the design they were requesting could be devastating to their company. I already possessed a couple of shamefully sub-par design executions from previous projects deliberately overlooked for inclusion into my portfolio and certainly did not need another.
This is not to say that client input should ever be disregarded, as no information about the business being branded is appreciated and more valuable than that which comes from the business owners themselves and their consumers. However, as the experienced designer I can confidently relay that the overplayed visual clichés and the mysterious abstracts will not provide the impact desired. If the final product will not be something I can be proud of, I do not want the business.
Any consumer/provider business relationship can fall into similar circumstances. As a service provider of any kind you may find yourself expected to compromise your dignity and skills in order to please your client. If such a situation makes you uncomfortable, absolutely do not hesitate to politely decline to continue the business relationship. The customer is not always right but they must always be respected – a deed that cannot be accomplished without first respecting yourself.